Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★★½

Tarantino's previous film The Hateful Eight left me thinking "ok finally it's over", while his latest has left me thinking "couldn't it go on for another half hour?". Like its title suggests, this is an endearingly quaint take on alternate Hollywood history (similar to Inglourious Basterds but with a more subdued tone).

This is a whole lot less gratuitous than The Hateful Eight despite not really running too far below that film's runtime. It's a lot less self-indulgent with what have become expected tropes in Tarantino's films. Settling the film down with a reserved sort of character study helps the film explode into a riot later on when Tarantino flips the switch and decides to go all in on ridiculous action for the final act (which was genuinely hysterical and such a wonderful payoff).

While the final act blowout will be most people's highlight, it's actually really fun to sink into the lives of Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt's characters. It's a surprisingly amicable friendship that's core to the film and each has an interesting sort of arc. There's some blanks in the screenplay which add a bit of mystery (especially with Brad Pitt supposedly killing his wife?), but mostly these character's are incredibly fun to watch and excellently acted.

I'm not super familar with the era of Hollywood films which this film revels in, so a few early scenes came across as fun, yet kinda hollow fan re-creation by Tarantino. But the way he slides in character development for DiCaprio's character through him acting within a film is pretty cool. Also kinda wish a few of the other character's were given time to shine, because if you're not already familiar with Sharon Tate, her role in this film will feel a bit underwhelming. And even in knowing her role in the real life version of this film, her screentime does little but to make the ending of the film come as more of a sudden surprise.

Definitely demands another viewing for me to properly get my head around it, but this is a really fun film to sink into with a wonderful payoff. I would say it's immediately my favourite Tarantino film since Inglourious Basterds and one of his most restrained, to a sobering effect.

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